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Iran TV anchor Marzieh Hashemi released by US without charge

Marzieh Hashemi
Press TV anchor Marzieh Hashemi [Press TV]

US citizen Marzieh Hashemi, an anchor on Iranian state television's English-language service Press TV, has been released without charge after being illegally detained for ten days by the FBI.

Hashemi was arrested earlier this month while boarding an internal US flight from St. Louis to Denver where she had been filming a documentary on the Black Lives Matter movement. The 59-year-old African American is a convert to Islam and has been living in Iran for the past several years

Her arrest prompted protests across the world after it emerged she had not been charged with crime, as well as reports that she had been denied Halal food and had her hijab forcibly removed while in detention.

"Marzieh and her family will not allow this to be swept under the carpet," the woman's family said in a statement shortly after her release. They "still have serious grievances [and] they want assurances that this won't happen to any Muslim – or any other person – ever again."

Hashemi will reportedly be staying in Washington DC for a demonstration organised by her supporters scheduled for tomorrow. She has called for rallies taking place around the world to protest her detention to go ahead as planned, to condemn the harassment of the Muslim community by US security services.

"Just as America is aware of the harassment of the Black community by the police, America needs to start talking about the harassment of the Muslim community by the FBI," read the statement.

READ: Iran arrests Ahwazi activist allegedly tortured in prison

The FBI and the Justice Department have declined to comment on the case; however a court order last week that approved the partial unsealing of information in the case, said Hashemi was arrested on a material witness warrant issued by a federal judge. It affirmed that whilst she was assigned an attorney, she "has not been accused of any crime."

A US government source told Reuters it appeared that the grand jury was examining whether Press TV is a propaganda outlet that failed to register with the Justice Department as an agent of a foreign government.

Journalists photograph and film a poster depicting US-born and US-based Iranian journalist Marzieh Hashemi, who was detained on unspecific charges upon arrival at St Louis Lambert International Airport, during a press conference by her employing organisation Press TV in the Iranian capital Tehran on 16 January 2019. [Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP / Getty Images]

Journalists photograph and film a poster depicting US-born and US-based Iranian journalist Marzieh Hashemi, who was detained on unspecific charges upon arrival at St Louis Lambert International Airport, during a press conference by her employing organisation Press TV in the Iranian capital Tehran on 16 January 2019. [Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP / Getty Images]

Her arrest prompted outrage in Tehran, where journalists gathered yesterday to call the detention "illegal" and a "violation of human rights". A campaign on social media was also launched under the hashtags #FreeMarziehHashemi and #Pray4MarziehHashemi.

Hashemi's arrest comes during a tense period in relations between the US and Iran. Tehran had enjoyed a period of truce under former US president, Barack Obama, but the last two years has seen relations sour as sitting US President Donald Trump re-imposed sanctions and broke the 2015 nuclear treaty, against the advice of his European allies.

READ: Iran experts criticise ban on foreign goods

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